MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – Florida House Rep. Richard L. Steinberg abruptly resigned Friday as a federal investigation continued into his sending of a series of suggestive and harassing text messages to a married Miami female prosecutor, messages that he admitted sending after the investigation was revealed Wednesday by CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
“The events of the past week have been difficult for my family, for me and for everyone involved,” Steinberg said in a written statement first reported by The Herald Friday afternoon. “After much consultation with my family, my friends and my colleagues in the Democratic caucus, and after some time for quiet, personal reflection, I have decided to resign, effective today, from my position as a member of Florida’s House of Representatives. ”
Steinberg left the legislature Thursday to be with his family after the story broke. He had been in Tallahassee for the session for news of the investigation was made public.
The Herald reported that court records show dozens of messages were sent to Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Fernandez-Karavetsos over a three month period last fall, using a telephone with a number disguised by a software program.
The Herald reports Fernandez-Karavetsos repeatedly begged the person texting her to leave her alone.
When U.S. Secret Service investigators traced the Yahoo! screen name, “itsjustme24680,” it led to a phone and home internet account registered to Steinberg, a former Miami Beach commissioner.
The Herald reached out to Steinberg for comment, and late Wednesday, received a response in which Steinberg admitted he was responsible for the texts.
“I acknowledge and take full responsibility for sending inappropriate and unsolicited messages to Mrs. Marlene Fernandez-Karvetsos, whom I have known for more than 15 years. I deeply regret and wholeheartedly apologize for the disrespect that I have shown her, her husband and my constituents,” he said in a statement released by a spokesperson.
“Most importantly, words cannot express how sorry I am to my wife, for the disrespect I have shown her, and my entire family.”
Steinberg did not offer an explanation for the texts.
The Herald reports Steinberg, who was in Tallahassee Wednesday for the 2012 Florida legislative session, has not been charged with anything, although court documents indicate investigators believe he may have been stalking, a misdemeanor charge.
Steinberg is a lawyer, married, who represents parts of Miami Beach in the Florida House. He is a former Miami Beach commissioner.
“Richard is an amazing person, he always has been. He’s been caring, giving, dedicated, family man, always community minded, I can only speak to the wonderful things that Richard Steinberg has done,” said Lydia Muniz, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Steinberg was on the Big Brother Big Sisters board for years and has served as a “Big” himself, mentoring a child.
News of the Steinberg’s decision to resign came as a political relief for Democrats in the Florida legislature, who already have a significant advantage over Republicans. The reports of Steinberg’s actions and admissions went viral, and Democrats considered them a distraction they could not afford as the legislative session rolls to an end.
CBS4 News spoke with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office Friday. Prosecutors have not decided whether they will charge Steinberg.
Governor Rick Scott’s office told CBS4 News that the Governor had not yet decided how the seat will be filled.